03/23/2013 9:00 PM ET
Delgado struggles in possible final rotation audition
By Tyler Emerick / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- A day after Patrick Corbin impressed the D-backs in a five-inning outing against the Indians, fellow fifth starter candidate Randall Delgado failed to duplicate the same success on Saturday, allowing six runs on nine hits against the Royals.
"He was on and off," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He had some good innings, then he got himself in trouble. He just has to be more consistent."
With top prospect Tyler Skaggs already moved to the club's Minor League camp, Delgado and Corbin are the last remaining pitchers in contention for the back-end starting rotation spot.
While Corbin surrendered two runs on just three singles on Friday, Delgado couldn't keep opposing hitters inside the park, giving up three home runs.
"They are good hitters; maybe I didn't hit the right spot, but they just hit the ball," said Delgado, who allowed just three runs total in his previous 11 innings of work. "I don't blame too much [on] the pitches, they were just putting good swings on them."
Delgado also struggled with his command at times, walking four batters. Before Saturday, the right-hander had only issued two walks all spring.
"I respect those guys, so it was hard," Delgado said. "After two balls, I was trying to be too careful and stay around the corners. That was my mistake, maybe."
Delgado's outing could've been worse if it weren't for a few quality defensive plays behind him throughout the afternoon. Miguel Montero picked off a runner at third, Gerardo Parra threw out a Royals runner from right field and Aaron Hill made a nice snag in the hole to start a double play.
The final batter Delgado faced, Jeff Francoeur, hit a line drive up the middle off the pitcher's back, but he said he felt fine once the initial sting went away.
"Thank God, I'm OK," Delgado said. "It just hit me in the middle of my back."
If the D-backs want to, both Corbin and Delgado could get one more start in a Cactus League game before the club makes its decision.
Putz works back-to-back days to prep for season
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- For the first time this spring, D-backs closer J.J. Putz pitched on consecutive days Thursday and Friday, tossing a combined 2 1/3 hitless innings and striking out a pair.
"We're getting down to the end, so I wanted to extend him," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "We certainly wanted him to go back-to-back to make sure he threw some pitches. It's nice if you're always at 10 or 11 pitches, but the reality of it is, that doesn't always happen. So it was good."
Putz, who has said he prefers to save his bullets for the regular season, threw against the Indians on Thursday before taking the mound again Friday at Salt River Fields against Double-A players from the Cubs organization. He completed 1 1/3 innings in the outing.
"He threw the ball really well, had really good location, fastball was good," Gibson said. "He threw to that extra hitter in the next inning then sat down for a bit and went in the bullpen to throw an additional 10 pitches."
So far this spring, Putz has appeared in four Cactus League games, allowing one run on a combined two hits.
D-backs starter Trevor Cahill also pitched against the Cubs' Minor Leaguers on Friday, tossing 5 1/3 innings and surrendering three runs on six hits.
"He was fine, he told me he went out hard. Normally a starting pitcher paces himself, but he really pushed himself," Gibson said. "He got tired after three innings, but that's kind of why we do it, to work him."
• Besides picking a fifth starter for the rotation, the D-backs still need to make another decision before Opening Day about who will be the backup catcher to Miguel Montero.
Competing for the job are veterans Wil Nieves and Rod Barajas, both of whom have performed well this spring. Nieves has thrown out three runners while batting .321 at the plate, and Barajas has thrown out one while hitting .290. Barajas has shown more power in camp, collecting five doubles and two homers, while Nieves only has one extra-base hit.
"It's along the same lines as the fifth starter; we'll talk with [GM Kevin Towers] about it," Gibson said. "I came in today and watched Ian Kennedy's last two starts as well as last night's game, just to watch our catchers. It's a very close situation. It'll be a tough decision."
• Still recovering from an elbow injury, D-backs shortstop Didi Gregorius threw across the diamond Friday for the first time and could potentially play defense in a Minor League game before Spring Training concludes.
"He could at the end," Gibson said. "He's right on schedule. We've been very cautious with him, but he's starting to throw more and he'll probably do that again [Monday]."
Even though he hasn't appeared in the field in a Cactus League game this year, Gregorius has taken 19 at-bats so far in games as a pinch-hitter or designated hitter, amassing nine hits, including two homers.
"I want him to get close to 50 at-bats by the time he's ready to go 'full go,'" said Gibson, who added the shortstop will continue to hit in Minor League games as well. "He's going fine, though. He's great."
• Jason Kubel and Cody Ross will take up to 12 at-bats against Minor Leaguers Saturday at Salt River Fields. Ross is still making his way back from a calf injury and won't run the bases if he gets on, while Kubel is trying to find a rhythm at the plate as camp draws to a close. So far this spring, Kubel has just six hits in 36 at-bats.
"He's just kind of searching right now," Gibson said of Kubel. "He'll go over there and see how that goes."
• Saturday was Martin Prado's third start this spring in left field, mostly because of Adam Eaton's elbow injury, which will cause him to miss 6-8 weeks. The D-backs want to give Prado time in the outfield just in case they need him there in the regular season.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.